Summary: This sermon deals with how faith helps us on the journey through uncharted waters of accepting new challenges in Christ.

Accepting the Challenge

Hebrews 11:1-16

Last week I shared with you a challenge for the coming years here. A challenge that I believe God has called us to. Let me share it with you again. It¡¦s a challenge to become relevant in the lives of people who do not know Christ. Here are some specifics.

„Y Reach 75 people this year ¡V men women and children led to Christ.

„Y Increase our worship attendance to 300 in two services over the next two years ¡V while not cannibalizing other churches but reaching unchurched and unsaved people for Christ.

„Y Raise 500,000 dollars through our capital campaign over the next 3 years to build our Family Life Center as a tool for reaching unreached people in our community.

„Y At the same time increase our annual giving to missions to a tithe of our annual income. That means 10% of our tithes and offerings going outside these walls to missions here and around the world.

We talked last week about the sacrifice and commitment that would take us to these goals but I realized that for most of us to accept that challenge would mean a real change in our lives. You see we cannot reach those goals unless we are all in on the process. I have already challenged my staff and will be challenging out elders and coordinators to come up with specific objectives that help us reach those goals. I am challenging you to help us reach those goals. Here¡¦s the reality though for almost all of us ¡V reaching these goals will cause us to truly enter into uncharted waters of faith in our lives.

For courage in the face of uncharted waters - Turn with me to Hebrew 11:1-16

1) We need faith for the journey. Noah had never experienced a flood. Abraham had never left home. Sarah had never conceived a child. None of these men and women who were used greatly in the plans of God had ever done these things before. They were stepping into uncharted waters. The definition of faith is ¡§the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen.¡¨ How can we have an assurance of these things we hope for? How can we have faith for the journey on which we now embark? Some would say you can¡¦t raise that kind of money in a rural community like ours. Some would say that you can¡¦t reach 150 new attenders in 2 years in a small community, some would say that you can¡¦t possibly reach 75 unsaved folks in 365 days ¡V I say they¡¦re right ¡V we can¡¦t. But God can. You see I am asking you to step out on faith ¡V believe that you can accomplish great things because God says you can. We can have an assurance and a conviction because God has given us promises. We are given the promise that if this is God¡¦s vision ¡V He will bring it to pass ¡V if we are only faithful to do our part. Here are some promises you can take to the bank.

„Y Mathew 19:26 ¡§Jesus looked at them and said, ¡§With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.¡¨

„Y Phil 4:13 ¡§I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.¡¨

„Y Eph 3: 20 ¡§Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations¡¨

We set out on this adventure of faith - with only the promise of Gods provision in our weakness and a conviction that - If God could speak through Baalim¡¦s Donkey, and the Rooster¡¦s Crow for Peter. He can certainly speak through us.

If He could use a murderer, a thief, and a fisherman as preachers - He can use us.

These hero¡¦s of our faith launched out on a lifes journey with only a promise from God. We are setting out on a 3 year journey with the promises of God to bring us through.

2) We need faith to face opposition. A man named Plautus in 100 BC or so said and it still holds true ¡§Where there are sheep, the wolves are never very far away.¡¨ Noah faced the unrelenting scorn of his neighbors. Abraham it says v 9 ¡§by faith lived as an alien in the land.¡¨ He had no home he lived as a nomad always with the pressure of his neighbors. Sarah faced the scorn of even her own maidservants. Keep reading and you will find stories of Jacob, Joseph, Moses and others who faced amazing obstacles in their journey but faced them with the courage of faith. We face fear and obstacles as we make this journey together.

„Y The first real fear is- Rejection- a fear that people won¡¦t listen- or won¡¦t want to hear- An embarrassment about being different- really different from the world. But God asks us the question ¡V who do you really want to be accepted by ¡V the world or God?

„Y The second is a fear of our own inadequacy- I don¡¦t know enough or have enough to make a difference - Too many people think they are called to be lawyers for Christ instead of witnesses for Him. Just testify concerning the things you know about Him! God doesn¡¦t need lawyers- to agrue His case - He needs witnesses who have seen His grace in action.

„Y The Third ¡V a Fear of Failure ¡V folks if your not willing to fail ¡V your not willing to live. Children don¡¦t learn to walk the first time they try. It takes a series of trial and error to finally learn to walk. That is true for us as well. We are leaping into uncharted waters ¡V not everything will go our way ¡V but if we are doing God¡¦s work we¡¦ll be ok.

3) We need faith to finish v13 ¡V ¡§all these died in faith, without receiving the promise.¡¨ What the writer here refers to is the promise that we have received the promise of Christ. Here is the truth ¡V each of these journeyed without seeing the end of their journey. They played their part and handed to the next a life of faith to follow. Noah spent all the years that it took to build the ark- before 1 raindrop fell- 120 years. Abraham lived a lifetime and only saw the tip of the promise. Moses gave his life to bring Israel to the promised land yet never entered himself. It¡¦s easy to get people to make a one day or one week commitment. What¡¦s hard is changing our lifestyles. These great men and women of faith developed a lifestyle of faith from which to accomplish their vision. V16 says ¡§they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.¡¨ They decided to live for something worth dying for. They sacrificed and built so that others could enjoy the fruit of their labor. Not just for a week or a month or a year ¡V but for the rest of their lives. Then it says that God was not ashamed to be called their God. Folks each of these people had moments of failure, fatigue, frustration, and abject sin ¡V but God was not ashamed because the focus of their lives was to follow and glorify Him.

Read verses 32-40

God has provided something better for us ¡V as we live empowered by the spirit of God. However we continue to labor because all yet is not fulfilled until the day when that wonderful promise is fulfilled ¡§I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.¡¨ For now it is our turn ¡V to walk by faith, live by faith, minister by faith, sacrifice by faith, and if he does not return die by faith so that others might live. Folks it¡¦s time we the church rose up as the body of Christ, live by faith and accomplish something worth accomplishing. And may it be said of us ¡§God was not ashamed to be called their God.¡¨